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Discovery, Starcom USA Take Upfront Minute-by-Minute

Discovery Communications broke the seal on its upfront, inking a deal with media agency Starcom USA.

The wide-ranging deal, terms of which were not disclosed, cuts across 11 Discovery networks, plus digital and cross-platform vehicles, and it is based on minute-by-minute ratings delivery.

The pact not only represents the first cable deal for Starcom for the 2007-08 upfront, but the first marketplace agreement this year based on exact minute ratings delivery sourced from Nielsen All Minute data, according to Discovery officials.

For Starcom, Discovery will combine audience information from Nielsen All Minute data -- rather than average commercial minute data -- and its own logs to provide accurate commercial occurrence data.

“Marketers expect a far greater level of accountability from their agencies and advertising partners than ever before, and we are thrilled to offer Starcom’s clients the first opportunities across our top-quality platforms, backed by the most accurate data available,” said Joe Abruzzese, president of advertising Sales for Discovery Communications, in a prepared statement. “In this way, we are taking a significant step forward in offering advertisers increased assurances of the value of their partnership with Discovery’s brands and programs.”

“All of Starcom’s performance, secured deals and research firsts in this space -- including minute-by-minute, TNS, TiVo and beyond -- have shown that more precise and accurate data are extremely advantageous to our marketers,” Starcom USA president and chief activation officer Chris Boothe said in a prepared statement. “We need to be able to approach different partners in different ways to find solutions to more specific client business objectives and, as such, it’s important that forward-thinking partners like Discovery can provide us with such precise, client-specific audience accuracy and accountability.”

Last week, NBC signed a deal estimated from $800 million-$1 billion with media agency GroupM that spreads budgets not only on the peacock network, but NBC Universal cable networks.

Since then, ABC and Fox have reportedly stuck deals at significant price increases over last year’s upfront rates.